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Man arrested after Illinois runaway teen is found in Wesley Chapel

Sezer Gok, 40, and the girl disappeared from Illinois in November.

Sezer Gok, 40, and the girl disappeared from Illinois in November.

WESLEY CHAPEL — They met at the mall in her small central Illinois hometown. He came from Turkey and ran a kiosk in Bloomington. It was either June or July last year, detectives say.

She was 16. He was 39.

Tiffany kept her relationship with Sezer Gok a secret from her parents, authorities said. She began working for him. He named a new kiosk for her: Tiffany's Balloons.

Tiffany and Gok must have planned to leave, said Bloomington police Detective Tom Rena, because it all happened so fast. Gok had been working days, if not weeks, in advance to close down each of his kiosks. She left high school and family behind.

Before anyone even knew, they were gone.

"By the time we caught up with them leaving," Rena said, "we were about 10 steps behind them."

Tiffany was reported missing Nov. 12. Evidence showed she left willingly with Gok, Rena said.

At some point they were married in a Muslim religious ceremony, a Pasco sheriff's report states. They first stopped in Pittsburgh. There, the report states, Gok read a news story alleging he abducted Tiffany. He got nervous and took her to Tampa.

Tiffany never told her parents where she was, Rena said. During the two months she was missing, she called them once, just before Christmas.

Back in Bloomington, Rena worked with U.S. marshals to track Gok's location.

The couple moved to Glenwood Mobile Home Park on Habersham Lane east of Tampa. Then on Jan. 12, they rented a house at 5909 Azure Drive in Wesley Chapel.

Rena would not reveal investigative techniques, but marshals located Gok. Authorities went to the home at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday and arrested him.

Investigators interviewed Tiffany, now 17, who told them she was seven weeks pregnant with Gok's child and that she was "fully committed to Muslim faith," said sheriff's spokeswoman Melanie Snow.

Tiffany was taken into child custody. Her father has since picked her up, Rena said.

Gok, now 40, remained in the Land O'Lakes jail Wednesday on charges of interfering with custody and sheltering a runaway. More charges are pending against him in Illinois.

U.S. Immigration and Customs had placed a hold on his release.

No one was home Wednesday afternoon at the light pink Wesley Chapel home with "Princess" etched into the door knocker.

A silver Jeep Cherokee with Illinois plates, listed as Gok's vehicle by Bloomington police, sat in the driveway. Duct tape covered a gash in the SUV's rear end.

On the driveway, closest to the rear passenger side of the SUV, lay a pair of girl's jeans, still folded, and a make-up case.

Contact Alex Orlando at aorlando@tampabay.com or (727) 869-6247.

Man arrested after Illinois runaway teen is found in Wesley Chapel 01/15/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 15, 2014 10:03pm]
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